Material and Ideational Relations Between Humanity and Its Environment

1332 Words 6 Pages
The concept of a continuum of material and ideational relations between humanity and its environment requires a nuanced approach which avoids generalizations. I theorize that one cannot argue the greater importance of either the material of ideational aspect without making dangerous assumptions. While some scholars may theorize that it is mankind's religious and ethical worldviews which shape the environment, there is also strong evidence supporting the idea of humanity's technologies and surroundings affecting religious and ethical systems. It is necessary, therefore, to acknowledge the fact of each extreme effecting the other. The material world affects the ideational and the ideational affects the material. Before concluding this …show more content…
Calvin DeWitt argues for a contemporary restructuring of these views. As a Christian zoologist, DeWitt encourages Christians to think of the environment from the Creator's standpoint. By accepting the viewpoint of a loving creator God, the way that Christians acted upon the world would then be shifted to a more benevolent and caring appreciation. Another key figure who believes in the power of ideas is William Cronon. He theorized that the concept of “wilderness” was a social construct and that society treated this untouched nature with more care than the nature in their own environment. The establishment of wildlife preserves and state parks serve as excellent examples of humans attitudes and worldviews shaping the environment they occupy. On the other side of the material/ideational continuum lies the idea that the environment and human technology shapes humanity's ideologies and cosmologies. One of the best examples of this concept in action is revealed in the research of John Snarey. He hypothesized that low water availability among pre-missionization indigenous populations “would be significantly more likely to show an elective affinity for a morally concerned Supreme Deity.” [Snarey, 1] His data supported this idea, with 28% of populations with an extreme scarcity of water creating morally concerned high